North Park Ranch Preserves Wildlife & Ranching Heritage

March 30, 2012

In early 2012, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) teamed up with partners to protect 2,240 acres of the historic Coyte Ranch in North Park, the largest and most intact mountain valley in Colorado, and home to nesting sage grouse. The project (a five-year effort) represents a landmark agreement between agricultural and wildlife interests.

The conservation easement permanently conserves wildlife habitat and long-standing ranch uses, while prohibiting subdivision and development of the property.

Initial steps to protect the ranch in 2007 began with the vision of ranch owner Dave Meyring, a descendent of 1890s homesteader Ralph Coyte. After Meyring’s tragic death in a horse accident in 2009, the Meyring family continued to negotiate the conservation easement.

The ranch encompasses sagebrush rangelands, aspen and spruce, and lush wetlands along the tributaries of Mexican Creek. The owners manage the property to benefit both the cattle operation and habitat for sage grouse, elk, moose, mule deer and black bear. The conservation easement was made possible by funding from Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Habitat Stamp Program, the lottery-funded Great Outdoors Colorado, and the Gates Family Foundation.

CCALT is a partner of the Sage Grouse Initiative. The nonprofit CCALT currently holds conservation easements on 10 ranches in Jackson County (North Park), protecting more than 15,000 acres. The organization is working with several more North Park ranch families on conservation easements that will close in 2012 and 2013. North Park consists mainly of privately owned, working ranches that are intermixed with public lands. Repeated statewide surveys have highlighted North Park as significant for its high resource values – intact ranchlands, water, and wildlife.